Monday, November 5, 2012
Spiced Pear Cobbler
This is based on the curried pears that Cynthia's mom makes. The curried pears alone are a great side dish to go with ham or turkey at Thanksgiving, but I don't cook either of those things at my house. Pigs and turkeys are not grown in one-or-2- person sizes. I have cooked game hens like lilliputian turkeys, but that's a whole 'nother thing. Curried pears. Delicious no matter what.
2 or 3 pounds firm ripe pears, mixed varieties if possible
1/2 cup sugar
about 1 teaspoon curry powder of your choice
1" cinnamon stick
2 or 3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric if you want them more brightly colored
tiny pinch salt
Peel and core the pears. Put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them, add all the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the pears are tender.
Now decide if you are going to make a cobbler today, or several days from now. If the latter, take the lemons, cinnamon, and cloves out of the pan and refrigerate the pears until you want them. Otherwise, use the following:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Use a pastry cutter to bash these things together until the mix is well combined and there aren't any lumps of butter bigger than small peas.
Preheat the oven to 350. Put the pears and the cooking liquid in a casserole dish. Remove the cinnamon and cloves, and the lemons if you haven't already. Dump the dry ingredients on top and poke it down around the pears until it has an unevenly batter-like appearance with a few dry spots on top. Bake until brown and crusty on top.
1. If your pears are cold because you have left your pears in the fridge for 4 or 5 days due to disorganized behavior, like I have, it will take over an hour to bake. If your pears are still warm, it will take rather less time.
2. Leaving the pears in the fridge for days will also make a more homogeneously flavored pear. If you want the pears to have more of a fresh-fruit taste, bake your cobbler immediately.
3. You can use canned pears. I did, the first time I made this, and it was just as tasty. The pears were a little softer maybe, but that was it. Just skip the sugar if you used canned.
4. You will need ice cream.
5. I'm not sure asian pears would be a good idea for this. But that could just be because I don't really like them much. I think they're boring.
For this and the apple pie recipe, I suggest using multiple varieties of apple or pear, because different kinds of fruits have different cooking characteristics. Some varieties will dissolve into mush very quickly, and others hold their shape well. Pears also have those crunchy bits in them, known as stone cells. Some kinds have fewer of these stone cells, or more or less acid in the fruit. Using several types of pears makes a more interesting flavor.
Another thing that's important is that you don't over mix the dry topping with the pears. If you leave it somewhat uneven, the flour will absorb the liquid as it bakes, creating buttery, poundcakey regions around the chunks of pear and little pockets of sweet curry sauce. Man I wish I had some ice cream right now.